Living History Event
Change is More Than a Word
By Tamera Farrar
"Change begins with looking in the mirror. We are the change we have been waiting for. What kind of service are you providing for your community? Are you the best student or family member you can be? Are you taking care of your health?"
These questions and many others were posed to the audience of "Living History: Making Change Real" hosted by the Smith Vidal Language and Learning Center on Feb. 27 in CLT 102.
Dr. Adrian Taylor, an associate professor of history and government at Bowie, was the keynote speaker. While living and working in the Washington, D.C. area for the past eleven years, he said he is also, "...interested in making scholarship real, and helping people help themselves when it comes to solving our problems as a nation, and as an African and American community."
Taylor emphasized that although President Obama promises change, to make a true transition requires a renewed way of thinking. He added that change is imperfect, and addressed areas that need immediate attention.
"A typical black household makes just 62 percent of the income of a typical white household--a gap that has changed little in 30 years," Taylor said. Other disquieting statistics are:
- Blacks are nearly three times as likely as whites to live in poverty.
- Life expectancy among blacks is, on average, about five years shorter than it is for whites.
- Whites are more likely to have college degrees.
- Blacks are more likely than whites to be sentenced to prison, though incarceration rates for blacks have dropped in recent years even as they increased for whites.
Other issues, Taylor said, include "black on black" crime and children born out of wedlock.
Overseas, there are threats of more war, more occupation and more insecurity, Taylor said. AIDS and inadequate health conditions prevail. Education is a luxury. Cold, old rivalries are being born anew.
Taylor, who earned his doctorate in African American studies in 2007, pointed out that change has been a key part of the black community for centuries. He gave examples of martyrs in history who worked so that generations after them can reap the benefits of the changes for which they strived.
"The arch of change has been generated from active citizens who realized their inherent capacity to transform their environments," he said.
"Whether we are talking about (Harriet Tubman) abolition, citizenship and full constitutional rights for all natural-born citizens (Phyllis Wheately and Frederick Douglas), just wages, the 40-hour work week, and child labor laws (A. Philip Randolph), the end to lynching (Ida B. Wells), African dignity (Marcus Garvey), or civil, constitutional, and human rights (WEB Dubois, Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hammer, Malcolm X)-we are talking about change that was fought by believers; those that believed that they could make change real," he said.
Instead of standing behind a podium and lecturing to the crowd, Taylor treated the program like a workshop and engaged everyone in a breakout session. Smaller groups met to discuss issues that affect the African-American community.
Group members came up with several solutions to issues impacting African-Americans, including joining or creating an organization that supports ones beliefs, launching a protest, writing articles to local newspapers or politicians and mentoring young people.